Network of pay channels bet big on zombie drama

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Territory Reports

Fox Intl. Channels is throwing all of its weight behind the global launch of AMC’s latest original series, “The Walking Dead,” in what will be the first time that a global network of pay channels has acquired all international rights to a U.S.-produced show and then brought that show to Mipcom.

News Corp.-owned FIC — a network of 183 pay channels in Latin America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa — will distribute the show across its own channels. Third-party distributor eOne, based in Toronto, will sell the show to non-FIC-owned networks and handle homevideo rights.

“Last year we decided we wanted to have more creative input on our shows,” says Sharon Tal Yguado, FIC’s senior vice president of content development. “We decided to partner with U.S.-based networks and studios and be involved with massive shows that have a serious pedigree. We put aside a global fund to allow us to be a significant partner on these shows, and for which we will own 100% of the international rights.”

“The Walking Dead” is the first such project for FIC. It’s also the first show that basic cabler AMC is developing and producing itself. Coming off of big Emmy wins for Lionsgate-produced “Mad Men” and Sony-produced “Breaking Bad,” AMC wants to continue to expand into original programming.

“When you have the right property, it’s advantageous to be an owner rather than a licensee,” says Charlie Collier, president of AMC.

“The Walking Dead” — based on the popular series of graphic novels by Robert Kirkman about a zombie-filled post-apocalyptic world — is written and directed by Oscar winner Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile”). Gale Anne Hurd (“Aliens,” “Terminator”), chairwoman of Valhalla Motion Pictures, will exec produce, along with Darabont, Kirkman and David Alpert. Charles “Chic” Eglee and Jack LoGiudice are co-exec producers.

“We’d rather double-down and bet on them as owners instead of renters,” says Collier.

FIC is so sure about “The Walking Dead” that it’s launching the show globally across all of its networks.

Says Tal Yguado: “10-10-10 is global zombie day. That’s when we’re going to go viral with our marketing to promote the show across the world.”

“The Walking Dead” premieres on AMC on Halloween, and it will also launch across the globe over the following week. Like it did for “The Listener,” a Canadian-produced show that aired last summer on NBC, FIC is debuting the show simultaneously across its networks.

“We’re going to launch ‘The Walking Dead’ like a theatrical release,” says Tal Yguado. “The show will debut in 120 countries and 33 languages, and it will be available in 250 million households.”

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